Fear of a Black Planet is the third studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released April 10, 1990, on Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. Production for the album was handled by the group's production team The Bomb Squad, who sought to expand on the dense, sample-layered sound of Public Enemy's previous album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988). Having fulfilled their initial creative ambitions with that album, Public Enemy pursued a different direction for Fear of a Black Planet and aspired to create what lead MC Chuck D specified as "a deep, complex album". Public Enemy's writing of the album was partly inspired by the controversy with member Professor Griff and his dismissal from the group in 1989.
The album features elaborate sound collages that incorporate varying rhythms, numerous samples, media sound bites, and eccentric music loops, and reflect the content's confrontational tone. Conceived during the golden age of hip hop, its assemblage of reconfigured and recontextualized aural sources preceded the sample clearance system that later emerged in the music industry. Fear of a Black Planet contains themes concerning organization and empowerment within the African-American community, while presenting criticism of social issues affecting African Americans at the time of the album's conception. Its criticism of institutional racism and White supremacy were inspired by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing's views on color.
In its first week, the album sold one million copies in the United States, where it charted at number 10 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Upon its release, Fear of a Black Planet received general acclaim from music critics, who praised its sonic quality, societal themes, and insightful lyrics, and was ranked one of the best albums in 1990 by various publications. It has since been recognized as one of hip hop's greatest and most important albums, as well as musically and culturally significant. In 2003, the album was ranked number 300 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2005, it was chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
Famous quotes containing the word black:
“And since our Daintie age,
Cannot indure reproofe,
Make not thy selfe a Page,
To that strumpet the Stage,
But sing high and aloofe,
Safe from the wolves black jaw, and the dull Asses hoofe.”
—Ben Jonson (15721637)